Russia Debuts Postal Drone, Which Immediately Crashes Into Wall

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Someday, in the future, our skies will be full of whirring machines delivering anything we could ever want or need, from medical supplies to pizzas to the latest item from our Amazon overlords.

That day is not today.

On Monday, Russia’s postal service tested a delivery drone in the city of Ulan-Ude, Siberia. Instead, though, the drone crashed violently into a wall of nearby building, turning the UAV into a mess of jumbled parts.

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Russia had announced its plans to start delivering mail via drone. It seems like a smart idea, especially in such a huge country where severe weather often interrupts mail delivery.

Here was the original plan for Monday’s test. The $ 20,000 drone was supposed to pick up a small package and deliver it to a nearby village, Reuters reports. Instead the device failed spectacularly, only making it a short distance before crashing into a three-story building. The small crowd gathered to watch the test can be heard uttering expletives, according to Reuters.

No one was injured in the crash, and it didn’t do any damage, except to Russia’s pride.

“We won’t stop with this, we will keep trying,” Alexei Tsydenov, the head of the region who was present at the test, told Reuters. “Those who don’t risk don’t get a result.”

And risk they shall. The organizers aren’t quite sure what went wrong, but they suspect the 100 or so nearby wifi spots could have had something to do with it.

Russia might have succeeded in meddling in our elections, but, hey, at least our drones work.

The post Russia Debuts Postal Drone, Which Immediately Crashes Into Wall appeared first on Futurism.

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Trump keeps bashing Amazon for its Postal Service pact — but he’s overlooking a different controversial deal that gives Chinese merchants an advantage in the U.S.

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (r) speaks with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump.

The reason might rhyme with “Beff Jezos.”

Another day, another tweet by President Donald Trump aimed at Amazon and its delivery deal with the United States Postal Service. Amazon’s stock is down 9 percent in the week since a report from Axios about Trump’s obsession with Amazon kicked off a series of tweets by the president.

But while Trump continues to harp on this relationship — with questionable claims that we’ll get to in a bit — he continues to overlook a different delivery partnership that can put U.S. merchants at a disadvantage right here in their own country: It’s called ePacket.

The program, designed to boost cross-border trade in the age of online commerce, allows merchants in countries including China to ship small, lightweight goods to the U.S. at very low rates in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service. These sellers also get other perks like delivery tracking at no extra cost.

The program has been a boon to these Chinese businesses as well as the online shopping marketplaces where they hawk their wares, like Wish, eBay and, to a lesser extent, Amazon.

But it has rankled U.S. merchants who have found themselves sometimes paying higher rates to ship items to customers right here in their own country than Chinese merchants are paying to send goods to shoppers on the other side of the globe.

So why is Trump obsessed about one delivery partnership that he says is bad for the U.S. but not the other? One could reasonably speculate it has something to do with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his ownership of one of Trump’s least-favorite media outlets: The Washington Post.

So about that Amazon deal. By law, the Postal Service is not permitted to lose money on delivery deals like Amazon’s. And the regulator who oversees the USPS has determined each year that it does not.

But a separate 2017 study by Citi analysts suggested that the commission that oversees the USPS may be using an outdated method to account for costs and that fees on each Amazon delivery would need to be $ 1.41 higher in 2018 to make the USPS whole.

That one report has given Trump all he needs to pounce. What it’ll take to get him to turn his attention to the ePacket deal instead is anyone’s guess.

Update: Maybe just a tweet from his 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale?

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Telia delivers smart mailboxes to Finnish postal service

Smart postbox

The IoT will help reduce visits to empty mailboxes in a transformative project for the Finnish postal service.

Telia has teamed up with Finnish postal service Posti to develop smart mailboxes.

The new boxes use sensors connected to an NB-IoT network to provide real-time information on their use, together with alerts about vandalism.

Sami Reponen, chief process officer at Posti, said the mailboxes would save money and time, and benefit the environment by reducing unnecessary journeys for their employees.

“If the time needed to process each item sent via Posti took just one second longer than it does today, annual expenses would increase by 13 million euros,” he said.

“If we are able to save even 30 seconds of working time on unnecessary letterbox visits, the total benefit would be significant. The management of logistics flows is a crucial issue for us.”

Posti operates some 3,300 vehicles in Finland, with trucks travelling a daily distance equal to four and a half trips around the world, explained Reponen.

Sensors have been fitted to boxes in Helsinki and Oulu in a three-month pilot project. If it proves successful, the goal is to turn all 5,000 boxes nationwide into smart devices.

Mikael Sundholm, project coordinator at Telia, said, “We installed the first sensor just before Christmas, and the results have been promising. Posti’s test group is able to monitor the use of the letterboxes continuously with mobile phones.”

Delivering benefits

Real-time data from the mailboxes could prove invaluable to Posti during peak seasons, such as at Christmas or Valentine’s Day, when the boxes can be emptied according to need.

In the future, data from the sensors will be sent directly to Posti’s reporting system. “The goal is that each mail carrier and driver receives the necessary information on a continuous basis, so that we are able to monitor the movements of mail centrally and in real time”, said Reponen.

Internet of Business says

An innovative programme that reveals the IoT at its best: simplicity, real-time data, and a potential national deployment, all adding up to significant savings in time and money, along with greater efficiency, better use of resources, and environmental benefits. If the trial is successful, this could be a model for other postal services to emulate.

The post Telia delivers smart mailboxes to Finnish postal service appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

Amazon has privately blamed the U.S. Postal Service for grocery delivery issues that led to Amazon Fresh changes

Too many late or missed deliveries, company officials have told partners.

When Amazon recently announced plans to abruptly shut down the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service in parts of nine states, it did not provide much of an explanation for the decision.

But multiple sources tell Recode that Amazon has privately laid blame on the U.S. Postal Service, which was responsible for delivering Amazon Fresh orders to customers in most, if not all, of the affected delivery areas.

Specifically, Amazon officials have told several food brands that the USPS had delivered an unreliable experience to customers with too many late or missed deliveries, according to people familiar with the discussions. With no other good delivery options for fresh food in these areas, Amazon decided to shut down the service.

These brands were also told the economics of the business were harder in the service areas that Amazon chose to shut down, because they were less densely populated.

Managers inside Amazon Fresh warehouses have also cited the Postal Service relationship as a reason for scaling back the delivery service, multiple sources said. In one instance, some workers were told that Amazon balked at new delivery rates USPS was going to charge the company for deliveries in the areas in which Amazon ended up curtailing the service.

In another case, workers were told that the Postal Service’s inability to deliver groceries in disposable paper bags was a problem.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment. A U.S. Postal Service spokesman referred this reporter to Amazon.

In early November, Amazon Fresh customers in parts of at least nine states received an email from Amazon stating that it was shutting down the service in their area by the end of the month.

The grocery delivery service costs $ 14.99 a month on top an Amazon Prime membership, which runs $ 99 a year. Customers who place orders in the morning receive their delivery of perishable and packaged foods on the same day; later orders are delivered the following morning.

Amazon created the service in 2007, but did not expand it outside of its hometown of Seattle until 2013. Since then, the service had grown to a bunch of cities across California, as well New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas and Miami, among others. It is still live in sections of these cities.

In some markets, Amazon handles the delivery of groceries itself in green Amazon Fresh trucks or outsources it to local delivery companies. In others, the Postal Service takes on the delivery role.

The grocery partnership between Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service began with a trial in San Francisco in 2014 and the Postal Service won approval for an expanded multi-year test later that year. The Postal Service also instituted Sunday deliveries of non-grocery packages for Amazon several years ago.

The move to scale back the Fresh service was surprising to some in the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, which signaled a long-term investment in the grocery market. Dozens of disappointed Amazon Fresh customers reached out to Recode in the wake of the news.

Amazon’s chief financial officer said on a recent earnings call that there would be more cooperation over time between Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh and Prime Now, which is a one-hour delivery service that offers a limited selection of fresh groceries. An Amazon spokeswoman previously told Recode that the Whole Foods acquisition did not play a role in the decision to end Amazon Fresh deliveries in certain markets.


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